A seamless transition is promised as Nicky Horter takes over from James Davis as administrator of the Chichester Harbour Trust, a charity created to conserve for the benefit of the public an area of unspoilt estuary and its surrounding landscape.
Nicky moves across from Chichester Harbour Conservancy where she was countryside officer.
James is delighted to hand over the baton: “I started at the outset with the trust. The charity is very well established now and needs to change gear. It needs new ideas. With the best will in the world, having been there 15 years, I know it now needs somebody new to drive it.”
The trust was set up in 2002 to promote the protection of the natural beauty and wildlife habitats of Chichester Harbour, principally through the acquisition of land within the local area of outstanding natural beauty. With ever-growing support from the community, the trust works in partnership with the Harbour Conservancy, landowners, local authorities and all those concerned to protect the harbour for everyone to enjoy.
James can move on with the satisfaction that his 15 years with the trust have been “hugely successful”: “There was a feeling that there was a need for a separate charity, and we now own ten sites around the harbour, more than 230 acres of land. It is true to say that some of our early acquisitions could be described as low-hanging fruit. They were easy gains. We could see what was needed. And some sites were donated to the trust by people that owned them because they felt so strongly they should be saved. But we have also moved steadily to continue to find sites that would benefit from our care. At any one time, we have a good four sites that we are looking to acquire.
“We don’t want to own the whole harbour. It is made up of a series of communities and local communities that need to be there. It is not our ambition to own the whole of Chichester Harbour and turn it into a museum stuck in aspic. We realise that for that vibrancy to continue it has to be an environment where people can live there. But it is important that its popularity does not destroy it.”
Nicky admits James’ will be big shoes to fill, but she is confident it will be the smoothest of hand-overs: “James and I have worked together really closely for a long time. I have been with Chichester Harbour Conservancy for 13 years doing various roles, but mostly countryside management.”
However, she accepts she comes into post at a time of unprecedented pressure on the harbour: “We have seen the development pressures and the recreational pressures. There are pressures to provide housing, and with the housing come people that want to enjoy the area, and with that come pressures on the fragile natural environment. We have got to try to find the balance, how to conserve the area and let people still enjoy it.”
Trust chairman John Nelson is delighted to welcome Nicky: “She is an outstanding individual with great experience of Chichester harbour and is widely respected by the harbour community.
“She has all the qualities to build on the success of the trust and to take us forward in reinforcing the role of the charity in preserving the beauty and environment of the harbour.”
The measure of the trust’s success under James is to look at harbours to the east and to the west: “They have been carpet-bombed with housing. If you look at Chichester Harbour, it is the most beautiful harbour on the south coast and has managed to stay that way, not just the harbour, but also its setting, and it remains a tremendous asset to the local community. If it hadn’t been for the conservancy and the trust, I really don’t think the harbour would look the way it does today. I think the conservancy and the trust have been fundamental in preserving its beauty.
“It is great to welcome Nicky. She is an extremely-professional operator. You have to have a trust administrator that can get on well with all the stakeholders, the landowners, the local communities, the local authorities, the donors and the supporters, and I think she is very well suited to that.